Bencic plays her role to perfection in Slammers' victory

The Switzerland-based Slovak displayed her swift movement and fine game to win a few fans in India as she went on to thrash Kirsten Flipkens 6-1 in the women's singles and enable her team Singapore Slammers to surpass Legendari Japan Warriors at a crucial stage of their tie in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) match at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium here on Saturday.

Belinda Bencic is a former French Open and Wimbledon junior title winner.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Eighteen-year-old Belinda Bencic is not only one of the prettiest and liveliest faces around in the women's professional circuit, but she is also the one of the most promising talents who has it in her to make it big at the elite level.

The Switzerland-based Slovak displayed her swift movement and fine game to win a few fans in India as she went on to thrash Kirsten Flipkens 6-1 in the women's singles and enable her team Singapore Slammers to surpass Legendari Japan Warriors at a crucial stage of their tie in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) match at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium here on Saturday.

Ultimately, Slammers managed a 24-22 victory to register its fourth win.

A former French Open and Wimbledon junior title winner, Belinda, who has earned herself a reputation of being a giant killer since turning pro three years ago, has turned out to be a very successful player for Slammers this season, winning four of the six sets she featured in.

The authoritative way she defeated the 29-year-old Kirsten — who came in to the Warriors side to avoid a crisis arising out of the unavailability of Kurumi Nara and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni due to illness — in less than 20 minutes was simply superb. It shifted the momentum in favour of Slammers and gave them a decent three-game lead. This cushion helped Slammers retain its lead, even though by a slender margin of one game, even after it lost the men's doubles set to Warriors.

With Leander Paes and Philipp Kohlschreiber taking the close men's doubles set 6-4 against Marcelo Melo and Nick Kyrgios, the gap was narrowed to one point, 21-20 in favour of Slammers, between the two sides.

Melo and Kyrgios, who had gelled well in their previous outing against Philippine Mavericks, faced a strong challenge from the skilful pair of Paes and Kohlschreiber, who had the crowd support for obvious reasons. The Indo-German duo relied on its clever placement to unleash 10 winners and the Slammers suffered more because of committing four double faults.

However, Kyrgios got another chance to make amends to his game when he took the field against Kohlschreiber in the men's singles. The big-serving Aussie held his nerve against the tough German and won the super tie-breaker 7-3 and grabbed the set 6-5 to snatch the match for the Slammers.

Earlier, Thomas Enqvist gained from Carlos Moya's 12 unforced errors to win the legends' singles with a 6-2 margin and put the Warriors ahead.

However, Dustin Brown and Karolina Pliskova held their own against Paes and Kirsten for a keenly-fought 6-4 victory and catch up with Warriors.

Result:

Singapore Slammers bt Legendari Japan Warriors 24-22 [Carlos Moya lost to Thomas Enqvist 6-2, Karolina Pliskova-Dustin Brown bt Kirsten Flipkens-Leander Paes 6-4, Belinda Bencic bt Kirsten Flipkens 6-1, Marcelo Melo-Nick Kyrgios lost to Leander Paes-Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, Nick Kyrgios bt Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-5 (3)].